Extreme weather events, economic instability, and the coronavirus pandemic are disrupting small businesses throughout the United States. Businesses in professional services industries such as real estate, technology, accounting, legal and finance have been able to move to a remote setup and keep their revenues flowing, but those in other industries have been struggling to remain open and stay afloat. These include businesses in the food services, retail, hospitality, and personal services industries. While that may seem grim, business owners are doing their best to navigate through these difficult times and adapt on a moment’s notice.
These efforts are helping Main Street bounce back, albeit at a very slow rate. Businesses are resuming normal or phased operations while following safety guidelines, consumers are spending money, and the stock market is making gains. In addition, some businesses are actually busier than ever during these uncertain times. This Balboa Capital blog post discusses niche businesses that are thriving.
Music is important. It makes us feel happy, it brings people together, and it provides the soundtrack to our lives. Long before the days of compact discs, digital downloads and streaming music platforms, vinyl records were the preferred choice of casual and serious music fans alike. These circular disks are made of polyvinyl chloride from original master recordings, and they produce the purest version of songs.
The amazing sound quality, interesting album artwork and nostalgic nature of vinyl records have pushed the sales needle, pun intended. Over 19 million records were sold last year, and vinyl album sales hit their 15th year of consecutive growth. This has helped the 1,000+ independent record stores in the United States bolster their sales and profits. Many record stores are catering to music fans who cannot visit their brick-and-mortar locations by selling records on their websites.
Hobby and toy stores.
After a long day at school or work, many Americans are putting away their mobile devices, turning off their televisions, and immersing themselves in unplugged entertainment such as jigsaw puzzles and board games. In addition, children are spending more time playing with toys, which is a nice alternative to staring at glass screens.
Some puzzle and board game manufacturers are reporting double-digit and triple-digit sales increases for their time-tested products, and independent hobby and toy stores are reaping the benefits. Industry revenue is up 5% this year, which is impressive considering hobby and toy stores are competing against big-box stores and online retailers. Mom-and-pop toy stores are also benefitting from consumers who prefer to “shop small” and support local businesses.
Garden supply centers.
Most Americans buy plants, flowers, tools and other gardening items at large home improvement retailers. However, the 22,000+ independent garden supply centers in our country are experiencing an influx of customers and revenues this year. There are several reasons for this. For starters, garden centers were on the list of “essential businesses” during the pandemic, so they were able to stay open and provide customers with curbside pickup and home delivery options.
Next, people really enjoy planting shrubs and flowers, and tending to their vegetable gardens. A recent survey revealed that 68% of Americans are interested in growing their own vegetables, and 1 in 3 households have vegetable gardens. Lastly, local garden centers typically offer a bigger selection of plants, flowers, trees, seeds, bulbs, soil, fertilizer, and tools. Plus, they have employees who are knowledgeable about all-things-horticulture, which is a huge benefit for customers.
Nutrition, health and wellness tips are all over the news. You cannot log online or watch television without seeing reports that mention the benefits of walking, working out, eating healthy foods, or taking vitamins. Moreover, many Americans are visiting their doctors for their regular checkups and finding out that they are deficient in certain vitamins. All of this is helping independently owned vitamin stores sell more vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements. Mom-and-pop vitamin stores reported a 5.3% year-over-year increase in revenues.
Yes, vitamins are available at supermarkets, drug stores, large retailers and online, but local vitamin shops typically have a bigger selection of non-generic brand names. Additionally, vitamin shop owners and their employees can talk to customers and provide them with recommendations based on their individual needs.